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Real-life Stories

Holidays Are Better Than Reality

You can't buy tigers or reenact the lyrics of Katy Perry songs in real life.

If you're lucky enough to be jetting off abroad any time soon, fuck you. We'll be stuck here intermittently crying and trying to drink ourselves through the torturous misery that is the British winter. For now, though, we thought we'd gather a bunch of holiday stories together in an attempt to cathartically live out some kind of interesting overseas experience, rather than the depressing reality of sitting inside for the next half a year.


Illustrations by Sam Taylor. Follow him on Twitter @sptsam or visit his website at


I was in China a couple of years with a few buddies in some rural area that gives Chinese food the most terrible, gag-inducing name imaginable. Seriously, the stuff on offer looked like what I'd imagine you'd find at the bottom of an ancient sewage tank that's had a couple of centuries to fester and congeal. Nasty stuff. So we spent pretty much every meal at the one chain Mexican restaurant in the local mall.

One day, two guys got into a pretty heated argument. I'm not sure what it was about, but it involved a lot of pushing and non-specific screaming. Then, all of a sudden, 10 security guards came rushing over to break up the fight. I maintain to this day that what happened next was the most awesome thing I've ever seen in my life: one of the guys started flipping up tables all around him, sent canteen trays flying into the guards' faces, hopped up on a chair, scissor kicked two guys either side of him, pounced over another's head and vanished out the door.

I filmed the whole thing on some shitty, old Nokia, but it ran out of memory and corrupted the file. So, to this day, I have a broken 3GP file sitting there on my phone with the potential to make me millions of out of hit-based YouTube advertising. If there's anyone who can help me out, I'll give you, like, five percent, or something.



So I was out in Budapest one year with a group of friends. We'd been out drinking for most the day with this guy who worked at our hostel – a dude named Zig; the rare kind of full-blown alcoholic with enough charm to maintain a relatively normal lifestyle. My best friend and I splintered off from the main group somewhere between trying to convince American Christian missionaries to do shots with us at the train station and everyone else going off for goulash. We ended up stumbling around the gypsy part of town, where I got a tattoo of a train from a tipsy "tattoo artist" who claimed to have just got out of jail for harbouring guns and stolen goods for the Hungarian mafia. He had one of those big scars from his neck up to his ear, so I believed him.

Obviously, being drunk, loud, obnoxious and British doesn't do you favours anywhere (even Britain), so we quickly attracted the attention of two guys who "loved [our] accents and energy". That was clearly bullshit and, as drunk as we were, we knew something was up. My friend asked the two guys to back off, which didn't go down too well. They both pulled knives on us and started shouting at bystanders in Hungarian, presumably accusing us of being rude to them, or something.

We had no idea what you're supposed to do when two scary men are waving weapons and shouting at you, so kind of whimpered and pleaded with them not to stab us, before backing on to a stationary tram that luckily set off shortly after, leaving the two men to continue waving their knives around without anyone doing a single thing about it.


On the tram, we met two mind-blowingly beautiful local girls (and their incredibly pissed-off friend) on their way to this huge outdoor club. We tagged along and spent the next couple of hours dancing to the kind of music that would normally make me want to hang myself, but, for that night, was somehow the most amazing thing I've ever heard. Next – and I'm still not 100 percent sure what prompted this – I saw my friend charging towards me, anger bubbling up through his pupils, who then smacked me as hard as he could in the face and disappeared for another couple of hours.

In the meantime, I went off with one of the girls to what I thought was a well-covered area outside the club. What I hadn't realised is that, directly above us, was a raised dancing platform where around 70 people were peering down at my naked, bobbing arse. We headed away from the embarrassment and back to the hostel, where we found my angry friend being pinned down – screaming – in the corridor with the rest of my friends trying to slap him into peaceful submission. Which was obviously a terrible plan.

The next morning, a man complained to front desk that we'd kept him and his one-legged son awake all night.

That's the best story in my arsenal of otherwise terrible stories, so thanks for letting me share.


My friend and I were on a skate trip in Russia, sessioning a spot near what we'd come to learn was a black market. We'd come to learn that because the kind of people we saw walking in and out looked like they were permanently moments from death, only kept alive by whatever was in the medical-grade bags they'd leave with (we surmised they were either organs or stem cell milkshakes).


Anyway, one day we saw a dude walk out with a full-grown tiger on a leash. A long, flimsy leash, which could have quite easily snapped or been gnawed through, leaving the tiger to take a chunk out of any one of the hundreds of men, women and children nonchalantly walking past it, like a fucking tiger walking around in a city was the most normal thing in the world.

We figured the guy was going to load the tiger into a big van parked up nearby, but he walked straight past that, up to potentially the smallest Lada ever made and crammed the tiger in the back seat. Hands down, that was the most bizarre thing I have ever or probably ever will witness in my life. Thanks, Russia!


The last and only time I went on holiday with my entire family, my fat uncle got hugely drunk on sangria and fell asleep on a lilo that slowly floated out to sea. After several hours of what he described as “time I never want to have to think about again”, the coastguard found him. Poor uncle had to go straight to hospital to treat the steaming burns covering over 75 percent of his body.

A few days later, while the burns were crusting over and oozing, we all went to this amazing Spanish seafood restaurant where he decided to gorge on mussels in order to ease his physical woes. Unfortunately, the combination of excessive seafood, Spanish heat and seeping wounds made him violently sick all over the back of the rental car we then had to drive around in for the next week.


I can still smell the burnt flesh and vomit.


Back in 2010, I was on holiday with my gay best friend in Malta. He had this great idea of trying to replicate everything mentioned in Katy Perry's song "Last Friday Night", meaning getting hammered, dancing on bars, having a menage a trois, etc, etc.

We worked our way through the first few, bringing us up to "skinny dipping in the dark". We left the beach-front bar with the DJ and headed down to probably the roughest part of the sea on the entire island. Thinking it was just me, my mate and the DJ, I stripped naked and ran into the sea, leaving my camera with the DJ to record the evidence. I was running through the sea like a naked, disabled donkey and turned round to find half of Malta's male population staring at me, all fully erect and not trying to hide it.

Weirdly, what worried me most was that the DJ appeared to be struggling to use my camera, so unashamed and keen to document the night, I ran back to the shore to help, but slipped on the biggest, slimiest rock to ever exist. Apparently the noise of my boobies slapping the rocks and me being six-foot-tall trying to stand up, slipping everywhere – kind of like a shell-shocked Bambi – was life changing for everyone along the beach.

I don’t think I’ll be doing that again – I havn't heard the end of it since.

Illustrations by Sam Taylor. Follow him on Twitter @sptsam or visit his website at  


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